Get it, no "D." It's not technically true, they're a middle-of-the-pack defensive team, statistically, and their numbers are much better than the Sixers, but they aren't what they used to be. Not even close. Check out the preview after the jump.
It looks like both Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince will miss this game, which means the Sixers will probably face this lineup:
SG: Ben Gordon
SF: Charlie Villaneuva
PF: Jonas Jerebko
C: Ben Wallace
If you don't know who Jerebko is, click the link. I didn't either. If you don't know what happened to Jason Maxielle that he can't even get a start with this depleted front court, ask John Kuester.
My guess is that the Sixers and Pistons will flip-flop their defensive assignments at the guard spots, with Lou checking Ben Gordon and Iguodala against the bigger, and more physical, Stuckey. The wild card among the guards is Will Bynum, he's the NBA equivalent of a scatback in the NFL, and he can change the game with his penetration off the bench.
On the offensive end, the Piston startling lineup is basically playing 3 on 5 with the Swede at PF. Gordon and Villaneuva certainly aren't shy about gunning from deep, even though the latter should be. Stuckey's jumper is a work in progress, at best. Bynum will also put up threes, and can hit the shot.
When the Sixers have the ball, there are definite mismatches. In fact, there are probably mismatches at every position. Brand against a rookie. Dalembert against a decrepit Ben Wallace. Thad against a guy who can't spell D. Iguodala is too strong for either Gordon or Stuckey, whoever they decide to put on him. Lou is too quick for either of them as well. The Sixers should be able to exploit whatever matchup they want, outside of Dalembert, whose advantage should present itself in offensive rebounds.
The Pistons are countering their relative dearth of talent by playing at a snail's pace. They're averaging only 88.3 possessions per game, dead last in the league.
I had this game down as a win before the season began, and I'm going to stick with that prediction. The Pistons are 2-4, having lost to OKC, MIL, TOR and ORL. They did have one solid win, over a depleted Magic team, but I just don't view them as a good team, especially not without Prince to put on Iguodala.
Here's a fun fact from the stats: Wallace + Jarebko = 9/20 from the line so far this season. That's 45%. If either of those guys gets anywhere near a dunk, just wrap him up.
Key to the Game: Defensive rebounding. Don't give the Pistons extra possessions.
If _______________ the Sixers will win: Stuckey + Bynum = less than 30 points.
This is our game thread, I'll be here throughout the game, so join me for the matinee.